1 Peter 5
An online survey listed all the qualities that people expect from a ‘perfect’ pastor:
He is ‘male and preaches for exactly twelve minutes.
He is twenty-eight years of age, but he’s been preaching for thirty years.
He works from 8 am until midnight every day, but is also the caretaker.
He frequently condemns sin, but never upsets anyone.
He wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, gives generously to the poor and has a low salary.
He makes fifteen daily calls to parish families, visits the house-bound and the hospitalised, spends all his time evangelising the un-churched and is always in the office when he is needed.He is also very handsome!’
Some people love a title, and love the honour and prestige that goes with it. Eldership is not for them! Peter’s explanation of church eldership is that they “shepherd the flock” That’s a tough dirty job! They lead the flock to good pastures – the word of God and the bread of life Jesus. They lead the flock away from bad pasture and protect from wolves, especially those dressed in sheep’s clothing.
As Peter explains it is not for the lazy, or the proud. It is not a place for proud fools who will not be taught—for men who won’t have their minds changed by the Word when his presuppositions are challenged by it.
It is not for the cowardly, people pleasers, who will never say No! or Over my dead body! It is no place for men who want to please everyone, even wolves.
It is, as one commentator wrote, therefore not a place for women, since no godly man would let a woman stand between the wolves and himself.
Elders exercise careful oversight willingly.
In 1917, a young C.S. Lewis won a scholarship to the great Oxford University. Just after winning the scholarship, Lewis dropped everything to voluntarily join the British army as an officer to go to fight in Europe’s Great War.
He fought and was wounded by a shell that killed the man next to him on 15 April, 1918 and spent the rest of his time as a soldier recovering in a hospital.
Lewis didn’t have to go to the Great War, at least not when he did. But he joined because he couldn’t bear the thought of being drafted into the army, as if to say that he wasn’t willing to put his body between those he loved and those who would do them harm unless the government made him.
Pastors are volunteer army, not a draft. That’s Peter’s point in verse 2. They are to serve at the inward compelling of God’s Spirit, out of a deep desire and call, not out of compulsion.
Elders shepherd by example not domination v3. Of course they get it wrong, and they have the humility to admit. When a president says “Don’t speak to me like that, I am the president” they have lost all authority. Eldership is showing rather than shouting.
Why be an elder? For the unfading crown of glory – the reward and blessing of Jesus for being a faithful steward.
The rest of the exhortations are still to elders, but applicable for all!
Humble yourself – let God exalt you at the right time.
Be sober minded – don’t let your thoughts run as wild as a drunk. As Paul writes to the Corinthians “Take every thought captive”, or little things become big things.
Be watchful – Satan prowls around like a roaring lion. Making a frightful noise but looking for a weak straggler to pick off. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that you are not alone and other go through the same things. That is one of Satan’s key strategies – to make you think you are alone and they only one with that issue and that no-one else will understand. Resist it!
Resist – knowing Christ will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Marinate on that